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Meet the Member Cougar Racca
story by Michele Toberer
“Cougar is a spunky little 12-year-old that follows by his name, he’s determined and passionate, and once he showed interest in rodeo, he just jumped in and has really done well. He’s a typical little rodeo cowboy,” says mom, Kendal Henry of the Louisiana Junior High Rodeo Association rookie. The sixth-grader competes in breakaway roping, ribbon roping, and goat tying in the LJHSRA, and has had quite a bit of success in rodeo, considering he just started a little over four years ago. His stepdad, Brandon Henry who Cougar calls Buddy, was a calf roper and was happy to teach Cougar what he needed to know, also taking him to some of the best in the business to give him the skills he needed to be competitive at roping calves. Their family, including brother, Grant Racca, 17, and sisters, McKenna Henry, 5, and Ainsley Henry, 1, live on a 40-acre farm in Iowa, Louisiana, that adjoins Henry family land. Cougar started out working cattle on their farm on his little sorrel Welsh pony, Paycheck Billy. The Henry’s are a multi-generation rodeo family, so cousins, Chad and Kincade Henry, also stepped in to help the fledgling cowboy when Cougar caught the rodeo fever.
“Shane Hanchey is my favorite professional tie down roper, I like that he’s from Louisiana too. I’ve been to a couple of his roping schools, and he taught me to be more aggressive and to keep my tip down. Last year, I won the average in the senior breakaway match during Mardi Gras holiday.” Cougar has also been to the Josey Ranch roping schools for the past four years and has placed in the roping at the end of the schools each year. Cougar started out competing in the Louisiana and Cajun Little Britches Associations when he was 7-years-old, and has been to the NLBRA finals four years, winning sixth place in the average and sixth place in the world in flag racing in 2016.
The Bell City High School student has now focused his energy towards qualifying for his first national junior high school rodeo finals in South Dakota this summer. His ribbon roping partner is Ava Nunez, and the two had some success at one of the first few rodeos of the season. Cougar has also made good runs in breakaway roping at the first few rodeos as well. “I was a 2.4 at one rodeo, but broke the barrier, and I had a 3-second run at the next one.” He has two horses; Popcorn is an 18-year-old sorrel gelding that was raised by Brandon’s family, and Cougar likes to work cows as well as rope calves on him. “Popcorn doesn’t always want to come in when we practice, he tries to stay in the pasture unless he thinks I’m feeding him, he really likes his feed.” Cougar recently got a new 11-year-old bay horse named Paco, from Kincade Henry, and he’s grateful to have both horses to practice and compete on. “Paco and Popcorn both try really hard for me.”
Although rodeo is the main event on Cougar’s mind, and what he sees himself doing professionally one day, he is a typical middle-schooler that enjoys math, loves to show commercial cattle in 4-H, and likes spending time going duck, deer, and alligator hunting. His PaPa Alan Petzold and Brandon help with morning feedings, but after school Cougar typically practices and helps with livestock feeding chores in the afternoons. He’s often followed along by his miniature Australian Shephard, Rope. Cougar’s dad, Brad Racca, also lives in Iowa, works at a petro-chemical plant, and often comes to watch him at the rodeos. Kendal works in casino food sales, and Brandon works on the family farm taking care of cattle.
“My favorite thing about being in LJHSRA is that I get to compete with other people, I’ve made some good friends, and I get to rope a lot.”